2011 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada season finale

I had the pleasure to work in the control tower for the season finale of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada at Mosport International Raceway. It was part of the huge American Le Mans weekend. The weekend is officially the Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport. I was there Friday for the Test day, plus Saturday and Sunday for the racing. As the weather was good I camped inside Turn-1.

Crowded Mosport control tower
Crowded Mosport control tower

It was my first time in the Mosport control tower. Unlike a regional weekend, a bank of TV monitors linked to the television cameras around the track were set up along one wall of the control room. There was also an instant reply system in the back of the room. Altogether it was a great way to view the racing.

I attended the drivers meetings for the GT3 series. The key messages were about jump starts and blocking. It was a relatively quiet weekend (clean racing) in the tower. I also watched some of the other series (such as the American Porsche GT3 Cup series).

We had a good turn out for the season finale races. There were 18 entries for the weekend, which meant the racing was great!

Saturday evening I talked with the Race Director about the year in review, and to gather feedback, which was positive. We also discussed the 2012 season. I want to be part of the series again next year.

The racing for me was over around noon on Sunday. The afternoon was reserved for the main 2h45m ALMS race. I did not go into the tower during the ALMS race – it would have been far too crowded. Instead I left for home a little early – it’s nearly a 4-hour drive back to Ottawa.

ALMS paddock at Mosport
ALMS paddock at Mosport

Assistant Clerk DAC weekend

This past weekend I was working as an assistant clerk of the course for the DAC weekend at Shannonville Motorsports Park. I was working under George McCullough. I was one of two vehicle dispatch communicators. It was a busy role, but I shared it with another assistant clerk.

This was my first regional race weekend in the control tower after two weekends with the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series.

On the vehicle dispatch radio network, we had all the emergency vehicles, the safety car, two tow vehicles, pit lane marshals, and scrutineering. Shannonville is a good place to learn in the control tower because 90% of the track is visible from the tower. We could see nearly everything happening. At other tracks, you can typically only see the front straight and the clerk must rely entirely on the radio calls from the corners for details.

We had some issues with the radios during the weekend. The safety car in particular did not have headsets and they had difficulty hearing our calls. This means that sometimes they missed picking up the leaders when we had a full-course yellow condition. For example, we would call for the safety car to ‘stand-up’, which indicates to them that they should start the car, buckle up and be ready to roll out on the next radio call. That allows them to prepare. Where possible, we should also give them the current leader car number and car colour. Then if we do next the safety car, we can then dispatch them immediately. However, if the first call was missed because they could not hear over the noise of the race vehicles on track, they would not be able to roll out as quickly as possible.

Another issue was having two people doing the same vehicle dispatch role. We kept stepping on each other. I understand that it was because George already had a vehicle dispatcher when I asked if I could clerk as well.

Overall, I enjoyed the weekend as an assistant clerk of the course. I could see how other clerks operate, how important clear communications are for running an event, and about the interactions between the different groups (clerk, timing, vehicles, pit lane, registration, and so forth).

Shannonville Control Tower
Shannonville Control Tower